Central BJP leaders may have tried to salvage their image by insisting that Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa resign first before they announced his successor. But the authority of the party "high command" never looked more dented — since BJP parliamentary board decision that he must quit "immediately" in the wake of his indictment by lokayukta report.
Unable to enforce their fiat, for some years now, central BJP leaders have been forced to let regional satraps have their way till an indictment or an adverse verdict gave them opportunity.
Last year, Vasundhara Raje held on to post of leader of opposition in Rajasthan because she thought Rajnath Singh as BJP chief got her out "unfairly" for poll defeat. She returned to the post after a year in February.
In Karnataka's case, their efforts were cramped by a bid to ensure that not BSY's choice but BJP national general secretary HN Ananth Kumar took his place.
Consequently, Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley, who went as "central observers," could not ignore BJP chief Nitin Gadkari's "desire" but at the same time ensure BSY gave in his resignation first, BJP insiders said.
Taking no chances, BSY thrice shifted in three days the time for tendering his resignation, to force the central leaders accept his term that loyalist Lok Sabha MP Sadananda Gowda take his place.
BJP insiders saw a parallel between the crisis caused by BSY and one in Madhya Pradesh. Uma Bharti resigned as CM in August 2004. She appointed her associate Babulal Gaur to the post only to find later the BJP wanted Shivraj Singh Chouhan to take over.
BSY's plan is clear: he wants to get back to the post as soon as he can be absolved of graft charges and lead the BJP again to polls in 2013.